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Sustainable Development Goals

The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Lancet Commission have just published a landmark report on the need to place children at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The report finds that despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country. 

Watch the videos from our 2020 Global Justice Day Seminar here. Professor Charles Clark of St John's University in New York and Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland, launched our Sustainable Progress Index 2020.

Ireland ranks 10th out of 15 comparable EU countries in this year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland.  The index comprises three dimensions: economy, society and environment.  Ireland is ranked 11th out of the 15 countries on the economy dimension.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 7th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.  

Measuring Progress: Sustainable Progress Index 2020 ranks 15 comparable EU countries based on their delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Written by Prof. Charles M.A. Clark of St John’s University, NY, Dr. Catherine Kavanagh of UCC, and Niamh Lenihan of CIT, the index compares 15 EU countries across all UN SDGs, assesses their performance on each individual SDG and creates a ranking table for performance overall. 

Ireland is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters in the EU and we have the highest levels of emissions from agriculture.  We are failing in the necessary planning, services and infrastructure to ensure communities, towns and villages across all regions can adapt to changes that required to move to a more sustainable future.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Sustainability for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

While Ireland faces a number of challenges, including deficits in our public services and infrastructure, unacceptable rates of poverty, and high national debt, it is important to remember that many people in the world face a far worse situation.  It is important that Ireland plays an active and effective part in promoting sustainable development in the Global South and that all of Ireland’s policies are consistent with such development.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Global South and ODA for an outline of a number of key challenges and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

We have declared a climate emergency and we are a self-confessed laggard on climate change.  But despite all the talk, where is the action?  The 2019 Emissions Gap Report just published by the UN Environment Programme outlines just how serious the situation is.  But it also points to actions that can be implemented.  The time for talking about climate action is over, Government needs to start implementing policy to bring about real change. 

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals aim to leave no one behind. With minimal progress on these in recent years, Budget 2020 reinforces Ireland's position as a laggard.

What role can Local Authorities play in Ireland's progress towards the SDGs?  Can small changes really make a big difference?  We believe that they can.  In this SDG Policy Briefing developed as part of the DEAR project, we set out some of the changes that Local Authorities could implement to create a more sustainable Ireland.

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 begins in New York today.  The purpose of the summit is for countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to bring concrete, realistic and effective plans to meet 2020 targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in the next ten years.  What plan does Ireland have to fully transform the economy in line with the sustainable development goals?

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